01/05 Powell's WWE Raw Live Review: Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt in an ambulance match, The Authority back in power, Royal Rumble build continues, first Raw of 2015

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01/05 Powell's WWE Raw Live Review: Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt in an ambulance match, The Authority back in power, Royal Rumble build continues, first Raw of 2015
2015-01-05 19:00:41

By Jason Powell

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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Corpus Christi, Texas at American Bank Center

[Q1] Raw opened with a recap of last week's angle that led to The Authority returning... A new opening video aired to a different cut of the usual theme song. The video was slick and focussed on the stars of today. Oh, and The Authority... Michael Cole, JBL, and Booker T were on commentary...

Wrestlers were in and around the ring. John Cena stood in the middle with a mic in hand. Cena said The Authority was back in power and their first order of business was to have them all in the ring so they could address the crew face-to-face. Cena apologized for agreeing to bring back The Authority. He said saving a friend, husband, and father was more important to him. He said 2015 is going to be a tough year.

Cena was interrupted by Triple H's entrance music. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon walked onto the stage. Steph gloated about how they know what's best for business. Hunter recalled everyone laughing and thinking they were gone for good "all thanks to that face-painted goof Sting."

Hunter told the fans to admit they actually wanted The Authority back. He mocked Ho Ho Hogan and the Anonymous General Manager serving as one-week replacements. Triple H introduced Seth Rollins. Rollins walked out with the Money in the Bank briefcase in hand. The fans chanted "you sold out" briefly.

Rollins wished Cena a happy new year. Hunter said the WWE Universe owes him a debt. Hunter mentioned Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena at the Royal Rumble. Triple H announced that the match is now a Triple Threat match with Rollins added. Rollins hugged Hunter. Steph told him he earned the match.

Stephanie said they also had to thank Cena for bringing them back. She declared it John Cena Appreciation Night. She said his attendance was mandatory and she believed they would be able to put a smile on his face. "I guarantee The Authority will deliver," Stephanie said.

Triple H said it's a new era for The Authority with no agendas or ulterior motives. "No, no, this is a new Authority," he said. Hunter told the wrestlers they will get out of it what they put in. "Everyone will get what they deserve," he said. Hunter said Dolph Ziggler would defend his Intercontinental Championship against Bad News Barrett in the opener while stressing that Barrett never really lost the title...

The broadcast team checked in from ringside. Cole, who was wearing a tacky suit that only Vince McMahon could love, said Lawler was ill, so Booker was filling in this week. They announced Big Show vs. Roman Reigns, and Ryback vs. Seth Rollins. They also hyped the ambulance match...

Powell's POV: There was a noticeable difference in the crowd reaction for The Authority and Seth Rollins. The crowd didn't seem all that passionate when booing the power couple, whereas Rollins got instant heat. The addition of Rollins to the main event is a surprise. It sets up the potential scenario of Lesnar or Cena winning the match, yet having Rollins cash in on them afterward. The mention of Sting was no surprise and I continue to question whether we will see him show up tonight since the last time we saw him was when The Authority lost power. I was actually hoping that the angle was going to be the wrestlers refusing to work if The Authority were back. Apparently, we're supposed to forget that the wrestlers walked out on Triple H once before.

[Q2] [C] 1. Dolph Ziggler vs. Bad News Barrett for the Intercontinental Title. Eden handled the in-ring introductions for the title match. Ziggler caught Barrett with his arms and legs into a rollup for the clean win in 2:40. Barrett attacked Ziggler after the match and ran him into the steps and barricade several times.

Corporate Kane came out and said that in their excitement, they forgot to mention that it was a best of three falls match. He ordered the referee to ring the bell. Barrett used Wasteland to even up the match at one pin each. The trainers ran in and checked on Ziggler. Cole said the match would continue after the break. "Will it?" JBL asked. [C]

Powell's POV: Oh how I've missed heel authority figure shenanigans and Kane as Director of Operations (or whatever the hell he's called). Ugh. Five weeks wasn't enough of a break. By the way, Booker has been subdued compared to the over the top role he plays on the pre-show. I'll take this Booker over pre-show Booker.

[Q3] The bell rang to start the third fall and Barrett hit Wasteland quickly for a near fall. Kane sat at ringside and watched the match. Barrett tied up Ziggler in the ropes and blasted him with a boot to the head and covered him for a two count. Barrett continued to dominate, yet Ziggler kicked out repeatedly. Kane showed frustration after the kick outs.

Barrett set up for the Bull Hammer, but Ziggler ducked it and superkicked him for a two count. Kane climbed on the ring apron and ate a superkick from Ziggler, who then walked into Barrett's Bull Hammer. Barrett covered Ziggler and got the win. Kane shook Barrett's hand and raised his arm after the match...

Bad News Barrett defeated Dolph Ziggler to win the Intercontinental Title in 5:30.

Footage aired of John Cena's first WWE match against Kurt Angle, and Undertaker shaking Cena's hand and telling him "nice job" afterward... Cole hyped Cena Appreciation Night... [C]

Powell's POV: Barrett winning another secondary title is about as exciting as Ziggler winning another secondary title. I'd love to think that this somehow sets up Ziggler for bigger and better things, but it feels like wheel spinning for both men. Here's hoping Barrett doesn't become the latest secondary champion to lose a bunch of non-title matches on television. You know, like his previous secondary title reigns.

Cole hyped Reigns vs. Big Show. They recapped Show attacking Reigns during his match last week, and Reigns returning the favor of dumping the broadcast table on Show on Smackdown...

Backstage, Renee Young interviewed Roman Reigns. He said he didn't know what to expect from Big Show, but Show can expect a man who is faster than a single bullet, a man who can leap over a tall building in a single bound, and a man more powerful than a locomotive. "Big Show can expect me," SuperReigns said...

[Q4] In a foggy backstage scene, Bray Wyatt said Dean Ambrose is going away. He said he will be a lost soul trapped in his own nightmare. Wyatt said the devil is real and tonight he walks beside him... [C] The broadcast team gloated about Total Divas winning best reality show from some website that wanted to be mentioned on Raw...

The Ascension came to the ring for a promo. Viktor said there have been many "so-called dominant tag teams." They mentioned Demolition and the Road Warriors. Konnor said they would destroy Demolition and throw the Road Warriors right off the road. "These guys couldn't carry the Road Warriors bags," JBL said. Booker questioned whether they are stupid or just that confident...

2. The Ascension vs. local wrestlers. The Ascension hit Fall of Man for the squash win. JBL mocked the Ascension for facing inferior competition. "Road Warriors? You've gotta be kidding me." Booker said he wants to see them try that with The Usos...

Powell's POV: The Road Warriors wannabe bit was awful. I don't know if this shift to questioning how good The Ascension are was planned all along or an audible, but they have a better chance of clicking as heels than as babyface.

Backstage, Lana and Rusev delivered a promo in front of red backdrop. Lana said they will celebrate Christmas in Russia in two days. Rusev told America to stay out of their business and to stop policing the world. Rusev said the only man who can lead the world to peace and prosperity is Vladimir Putin... Roman Reigns made his entrance... [C] Footage aired of John Cena winning his first world championship...

[Q5] 3. Roman Reigns vs. Big Show. Show speared Reigns and got a quick two count to start the match. Show caught Reigns with a big knee to the head, which they replayed. Reigns made his comeback at 4:15. He set up for the Superman punch, but Show caught him by the throat and tossed him over the top rope. Show went to ringside and hit Reigns with the ring steps for the DQ.

Afterward, Show brought the stairs into the ring with him and tried to hit Reigns with them, but Reigns recovered and speared Show. Reigns let out his primal scream and then his music played...

Roman Reigns beat Big Show by DQ in 5:30.

Powell's POV: This feud strikes me as something that should have been saved for pay-per-view. These DQ finishes on television aren't making me anxious to see it resolved, they are making me wish the feud would end.

The broadcast team spoke about Raw airing live in India, then set up footage of Triple H announcing that it will be Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at the Royal Rumble, and Stephanie announcing it's Cena appreciation night... [C]

[Q6] 4. Divas Champion Nikki Bella (w/Brie Bella) vs. Natalya (w/Paige) in a non-title match. Cole noted that Tyson Kidd wasn't with Natalya, and then showed footage of his antics on Raw last week. Paige and Natalya hugged before the match. Cole said they made peace after something that happened on Total Divas. Paige and Brie mixed it up at ringside, and Paige dominated. Natalya rolled up a distracted Brie and pinned her. Nikki attacked Natalya afterward, but Paige made the save...

Natalya pinned Brie Bella in a non-title match in 1:15.

Backstage, Dean Ambrose said he doesn't care about resolutions, he cares about kicking Wyatt's ass and tossing him in the back of an ambulance. He said the match will be ugly, brutal, and dangerous. He said that's how he lives his life, and that's how he's going to end Wyatt's... [C]

Powell's POV: So Natalya realizes she's better off with other women than her husband. Wait, it's not the Attitude Era. Nikki and Natalya trading distraction wins is another example of throwaway Raw matches that are failing to make me care about seeing a clean resolution. Meanwhile, Ambrose threatened to murder Wyatt on Raw tonight. Spoiler: Ambrose will not actually murder Wyatt on Raw tonight.

At ringside, the broadcast team expressed their condolences to the family and friends of ESPN personality Stuart Scott, who died at age 49. Classy...

5. Erick Rowan vs. Luke Harper with Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury as special referees. Noble and Mercury were both in the ring for the match. Rowan went for a cover and they acted confused as to which one of them should count. Harper connected with his clothesline and covered Rowan. Noble and Mercury both counted the pin. The refs put the boots to Rowan, who quickly fought them off. Harper put him down again...

Footage aired of John Cena being the first pick of the draft lottery as introduced by Chris Jericho...

Powell's POV: Before the match, JBL said we know Harper is a former IC Champ and he has an incredible clothesline, but we don't know anything else about him. It wasn't a shot at creative, but it should have been because it's so true. Harper vs. Rowan would mean so much more had they done the split properly. It's high on the list of examples of WWE's creative deficiencies. By the way, isn't every Raw basically John Cena Appreciation Night?

[Q7] The broadcast team spoke about the updated title match and the Royal Rumble match, then hyped the launch of WWE Network in the UK and Ireland... Footage aired of The Usos winning the tag titles last week... Cole announced The Usos an Naomi vs. The Miz, Mizdow, and Alicia Fox for later in the show...

Backstage, Alicia Fox told Naomi that even though they are on opposing teams, nothing can come between them. Alicia said her debut on Total Divas is on Sunday, then said she forgot that they kicked Naomi off the show. Naomi said it's okay because she can focus on her career. Alicia attacked her and dumped baby powder on her... The broadcast team members set up a video focussed on the history of Ambrose vs. Wyatt...

The ambulance was shown in the arena. Cole said the ambulance match was up next... [C] Ring entrances took place for the ambulance match...

[Q8] 6. Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt in an ambulance match. They immediately fought to ringside and into the crowd with Ambrose in control. Ambrose rammed Wyatt into the ambulance doors, then opened them and tried to throw Wyatt inside. Wyatt reversed it and threw Ambrose in. Ambrose quickly kicked him before he could close the doors to win. Wyatt suffered a cut and bled around his left eye. He took Ambrose back to ringside, picked him up, and ran his knee into the ring post heading into the commercial break. [C]

Ambrose avoided Sister Abigail and then teetered on the ropes before connecting with a clothesline. Ambrose continued to sell the knee. Wyatt came back with a clothesline of his own. Wyatt took Ambrose toward the Ambulance and ended up setting him on hte stage. Wyatt grabbed a white table with an ambulance symbol on it and set it up on the floor. Wyatt caught him with a clothesline from the stage.

Wyatt threw Ambrose inside the ambulance. Ambrose threw a chair at him from inside the ambulance. Ambrose continued to ell the knee. Ambrose threw Wyatt inside the ambulance, but Wyatt escaped and ran Ambrose into the ambulance. One started what turned into an five-man "use the table" chant. The wrestlers threw the chair at his face, er, Ambrose regained control with a clothesline.

[Q9] Ambrose took the stretcher board and placed it in front of Wyatt's neck, then ran it into the ambulance, causing the board to choke Wyatt. Ambrose answered that one guy's prayers by setting up the table in front of the ambulance. Ambrose placed Wyatt on the table. He climbed to the stage and then to the top of the ambulance, looked down at Wyatt, and smiled. Ambrose dropped and elbow from the ambulance that drove Wyatt through the table.

Ambrose eventually picked up Wyatt, who caught him with Sister Abigail on the back door of the ambulance. Wyatt opened the ambulance doors and shoved Ambrose inside. He closed one door and then sold before trying to close the other door, only to have Ambrose kick him. Wyatt performed Sister Abigail on the floor. Wyatt picked up a limb-bodied Ambrose and placed him inside the ambulance and slammed the door shut...

Bray Wyatt defeated Dean Ambrose in an ambulance match in 19:45.

Powell's POV: Wyatt and Ambrose worked really hard. It took me some time to get into the match simply because I've seen them work too many gimmick matches already, but eventually their hard work won me over. Will this be the last match or was this just another gimmick match? I hated the post-match commentary. Rather than cringe at the barbaric nature of the match and the punishment the men took, JBL flashed a grin and said, "that was awesome" in the same way someone would praise their mother's cooking after a good meal.

The broadcast team spoke at ringside about the Royal Rumble and WWE Network... Footage aired of Stephanie making this Cena appreciation night... [C]

[Q10] 7. The Usos and Naomi vs. The Miz, Mizdow, and Alicia Fox. There was a loud chant for Mizdow early on. Miz tossed an Uso to the floor and did the big point to Mizdow before tagging him in. Mizdow ran the ropes for a dive, but Miz stopped him and tagged himself back in, leading to a "Miz, you suck" chant. Late in the match, there was something clunky with Jimmy and his wife, which led to Miz rolling up Miz for the win...

The Miz, Mizdow, and Alicia Fox beat The Uso and Naomi in 4:10.

Cole hyped Ryback vs. Seth Rollins... [C]

Powell's POV: I'm not sure what they were going for. Cole said Jimmy didn't realize his wife rather than Mizdow was on the apron, which led to a moment of hesitation that allowed Miz to get the win. Whether that was planned or botched, it was an awkward finish.

Ring entrances for the Ryback vs. Seth Rollins match took place. Kane's music played and he walked out wearing his ring gear. Kane said it's not his night for remembering things. He said the match is actually a handicap match...

8. Ryback vs. Seth Rollins (w/Jamie Noble, Joey Mercury) and Kane in a handicap match. Cole said it was another suspicious ruling by Kane. Booker said it's clearly not Kane making the decisions.

[Q11] Ryback cleared the ring heading into the break. [C] The heels spent a few minutes working over Ryback. Ryback caught Rollins with a big clothesline and then set up for his finisher, but Kane broke it up only to take the move instead. Rollins immediately hit the Curb Stomp after Ryback hit Shellshocked. Rollins followed up with another Curb Stomp for the win. JBL hyped that it took two Curb Stomps to put Ryback away, and Booker said Ryback came "damn close"...

Seth Rollins and Kane beat Ryback in a handicap match in 11:50.

Cole hyped John Cena Appreciation Night... [C]

Powell's POV: I don't know about you, but I am so happy that The Authority is back and brought handicap matches along with them! Note the sarcasm. Anyway, this has been a flat show thus far. This isn't as entertaining as last week's show and it certainly doesn't feel like a hot kickoff to the new year.

[Q12] Cole hyped Nikki Bella vs. Paige for WWE Main Event. They previously hyped Miz TV with Seth Rollins for Smackdown...

9. Adam Rose (w/Rosebuds) vs. Big E (w/Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods). Booker said he likes New Day in a way that told me he feels pity for them. They said "New Day." The same guy who started the tables chant earlier and one other guy said it back. Ouch. Kofi and Xavier clapped on the ring apron and the Rosebuds joined in. They were the only ones.

Big E ran the ropes and appeared to be on his way to winning when he was clotheslined by a man dressed in a leotard and a white mask. A second man joined him. The men unmasked and revealed themselves to be Tyson Kidd and Cesaro. Cole said they had been dressed as Rosebuds. Kidd and Cesaro danced and slapped hands with Rose...

Big E fought Adam Rose to an apparent no-contest in 1:55.

Powell's POV: The finish caught me by surprise, but then I realized they were going to continue to waste Cesaro and Kidd by feuding them with New Day. Hey, if we're really lucky, Rose will join them for six-man tags! Whatever.

Backstage, Triple H and Stephanie were shown talking with J&J Security and Kane, but there was no audio. All five of them were all smiles... The broadcast team hyped the John Cena Appreciation Night segment...

Triple H and Stephanie McMahon made their entrance to another flat crowd response. Stephanie tried to rev up the crowd before Cena's entrance. Cena made his entrnace and received a favorable reaction. "Ladies and gentlemen, John Cena," Triple H said. Stephanie howled. They repeated the bit two more times while Cena stood stone faced.

[Overrun] Triple H set up yet another replay of the segment that led to their return. Back live, Stephanie said Cena is her hero. Hunter said he knows they've had their problems in the past and a lot of that is probably his fault. He recalled Shawn Michaels asking how Cena was the first time they worked together. Hunter laughed as he recalled telling Michael that Cena sucked.

Hunter said something clicked and he started to see the greatness in Cena perhaps even before everyone else. He said that might be why he's been so overbearing with him. Hunter said he saw a change in Cena again last week and that maybe he started to see past "all this hustle, loyalty, and respect crap." Hunter said all that matters is the ring and what's best for business. Hunter said he thinks he's starting to see a different Cena. "If not, I just want you to know from the bottom of my heart, I appreciate you," he said.

Hunter said he wanted to bring out some people who would appreciate Cena by the end of the night if they didn't already. Hunter introduced Ryback, Erick Rowan, and then Dolph Ziggler. Once in the ring, they all grew a set and beat the shit out of Triple H. Er, the four babyfaces stood there and listened to Hunter babble on about consequences.

Hunter asked Stephanie if they should suspend Rowan for 30 days without pay. She said then they'd have to go 60 days for Ryback. Hunter asked what they should do to Ziggler, who put the final nail in the coffin with the help of Sting. Ziggler said 90 days. Hunter and Stephanie spoke at ringside while the babyfaces huddled up and spoke about what giant pussies they were for just standing there and taking it (or something).

Hunter and Stephanie walked to the stage. Stephanie said that instead of suspending Dolph, Ryback, and Rowan, "You're all fired." There were some boos, but it was certainly not heat. She said they could all thank John Cena for losing their livelihoods. Hunter said Cena cost three men their jobs and reinstated The Authority.

"Ladies and gentlemen, let's hear it for John Cena," Hunter said. Confetti and balloons fell from the rafters while upbeat music played. Hunter and Stephanie stood kissed on the stage while Cena remained stone faced and the fired pussies in the ring still didn't go after Triple H. This scene actually concluded Raw...

Powell's POV: Wow, what an awful show. This is how you kick off the new year? Really? Listen to the crowd's lack of enthusiasm for the return of The Authority. It doesn't matter if it's short term, the fans have clearly had their fill of this. And how can you feel anything for Ryback, Ziggler, Rowan, and even Cena when they just stand there and take it? It's the first show of the year, where's Randy Orton or Sting to save the day and give some hope heading into next week's show when Raw will get its ass kicked by the college football national championship game? Just a brutal show. Wanna vent together? Maybe you liked this show more than I did. Either way, tell me about it by calling in during Prowrestling.net Live at 10:30 p.m. CT.




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